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The School for Lies Turns Wit into Mirth

I last saw Ben Carlson as Hamlet at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2007, where he was a tad too earnest, intense and far from amusing. I remember having to dodge his spit, rather rare even in such an initimate space.

A mere seven years later in the same theater, Mr. Carlson was entirely different as Frank in “The School for Lies.” The intensity is still there and, unfortunately, the spit, which is how I recognized him. Now, however, he has found a role that suits his gift for turning wit into mirth, sometimes at his own expense. The play is a delight, and Mr. Carlson and Deborah Hay (his wife in real life) bring it to life with words that are alternatively absurd, cruel, and delightful.

I have never laughed so much during a play. In fact, instead of being tired as I usually am at the end of a late night play on a weekday, I was full of energy. Run don’t walk to this play when it opens in your city. And I hope you have the fortune of seeing it with this lively cast, especially Ben Carlson, who has been reborn with this role.

Mar. 23, 2013